Small in size, seeds are one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet and have a wide range of health benefits. They are an easy way to add nutrients to your diet without breaking the bank and usually without having to plan ahead and prepare them. Healthy seeds can be added to salads, baked goods and smoothies for extra protein, nutrition and texture.
Next time you are making a salad, grabbing some Greek yogurt, or baking a batch of granola, consider throwing in some super seeds, such as these.
A favorite at my son's baseball games, a 1/4 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds contributes more than 75% of our daily requirement of vitamin E. One quarter cup also provides almost a third of the RDA for magnesium and selenium!
These contain high amounts of linolenic acid, an unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid that the body converts to the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. These are similar to healthy long-chain fatty acids found in cold-water fish such as sardines and salmon. Flaxseeds are also an excellent source of dietary fiber and add a nutty flavor when ground up and added to dishes.
These tiny seeds come in a variety of colors from white to black and are extremely oil-rich. They are the base of tahini, a paste from the Middle East that is used to make the delicious chickpea spread, hummus. Sesame oil is usually made from toasted seeds and is a very stable cooking fat that resists oxidation and rancidity.
: Chia seeds have high concentrations of fiber, protein and healthy omegas, as well as the minerals calcium, phosphorus and manganese. Studies have cited chia seeds as an effective means to boost plasma ALA and EPA omega-3 levels. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Further, omega-3s are excellent for brain and skin health, easing symptoms of depression, and aiding with weight loss.
Hemp seeds or hemp hearts:
Hemp seeds are the whole grain, while hemp hearts are shelled seeds. Although hemp seeds contain more fiber due to their crunchy shells, hemp hearts are easier on the teeth. Both hemp hearts and hemp seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron and the antioxidant vitamin E. Hemp seeds are also rich in protein, containing all 20 essential and nonessential amino acids; this makes hemp a complete protein.
Most people think that quinoa is a grain. In fact it is a grain crop, grown for its seeds and prepared like you would rice. Quinoa is a great source of magnesium and manganese, plus a good source of the minerals iron, phosphorous, copper and zinc. It also contains vitamins B2 and E, along with fiber. Quinoa has all of the essential amino acids, which so it is an excellent source of protein and an ideal addition to meatless diets, as well as gluten-free diets.
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